University enabling programs while still at school: supporting the transition of low-SES students from high school to university
Article by Lynette Vernon, Stuart J. Watson, William Moore and Sarah Seddon
Published in The Australian Educational Researcher
University participation rates are significantly lower in low socioeconomic status (SES) areas in Australia. Specifically, rates differ between-schools and within-schools, where inequalities in opportunities to access university pathway programs exist. The aim of this study was to test whether academic encouragement supported students’ school satisfaction and increased their desire for, expectation of and belief in the possibility of university study and whether differences were evident depending on pathway of study: the ATAR pathway versus a Year 12 access enabling pathway program called TLC110. A sample of 257 high school students (58% female) from 18 high schools, within a low-SES area of outer metropolitan Perth, Western Australia, were surveyed. Teacher encouragement was found to be positively associated with school satisfaction and, in turn, supported university desire, expectation and belief for ATAR students but not for TLC110 students. Qualitative data were collected (n = 9) to contextualise the inclusivity of TLC110 for high school students from low-SES backgrounds to support aspirations for university.